How To Extend The Life Of Your TiresOct 26th, 2017
What does every vehicle of the road have in common, regardless of its purpose, body style, power, or age? Tires. Every single vehicle on the road is reliant on tires to get it from A to B. As one of the most integral parts of a car or truck, tires can often end up being neglected by their owners, forgotten about and even treated poorly. For some reason, many drivers believe that tires can last just about as long as they need to, and don’t require maintenance beyond the odd air fill-up.
That’s not true in the slightest. As the only part that connects your vehicle to the road, tires are integrally important to the safety, handling, stopping power, and eco-efficiency of your vehicle; they require a lot more than air – and even air itself is being phased out for other gases.
A new set of summer or winter tires can easily cost over $1,200 so discovering and adapting your driving style and your maintenance track record are pivotal to prolonging the life of your rubber. Here are a few big ways that drivers and vehicle owners can extend the life of their tires, preventing premature wear, and the need for replacement.
Tires wear out over time. It’s just an inevitable fact of rubber being ground against concrete, dirt roads, and asphalt over time – but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, all tires wear, but drivers who take the time to monitor and maintain the even wear of their tires by rotating them every season are putting themselves in a great position to extend the life of their rubber.
Tire rotation works by continually moving tires between different locations of the car; so a front driver tire may be placed on the rear passenger corner after a long summer of driving. That rear tire will then take its turn in the front of the vehicle. This ensures that the tires all have a chance to do their part and contribute to even wear, prolonging tire life.
Most tire manufacturers recommend that tires be rotated every 5000-8000 km, or a seasonal change in Canada, dictated by the ice and snow. This means having a record of where your tires were located on the vehicle the last time you swapped your summers and winters, ensuring that a new tire is in a new spot every winter season.
Tires that are over-inflated will typically show signs of wear in the centre of the tire’s contact patch, rather than on the outside edges. This is caused by the tire bulging in the centre, wanting to become more spherical by nature – giving the outer edges of the tire less of a chance to contact the pavement over time. Similarly, under-inflation typically causes the outer edges of the tire to wear prematurely when the tire has significantly less air in it than recommended by the manufacturer. Both of these circumstances increase the chance of uneven tire wear, potential replacement, and in some dangerous and unfortunate cases – even tire blowouts.
To combat inflation issues, be sure to properly inflate your tires at the beginning of each season when they are changed, and be sure to top them up with air a few times each year. This can be done by reading the recommended pressure per square inch measurement (PSI) on the tire wall.
It’s also a growing trend for most dealerships and even garages to inflate tires with nitrogen, rather than air – because it’s more stable than air. Rubber is actually a fairly porous material, and over time air will escape the tire itself. Nitrogen is more dense and doesn’t leak from rubber as easily, ensuring that over/under inflation is less likely to occur. It also helps to keep tire pressure more stable and constant, resulting in a slight benefit to saving on fuel and tire maintenance costs.
In Canada, there’s an unwritten code that says get your tires changed over as late in the season as possible. This isn’t from straight up procrastination (well, in most cases) but because winter tires are notorious for premature wear in warm weather because they don’t respond well to heat – especially due to underinflation.
Wheels.ca, in a recent article tells us that “A winter tire on summer roads wears faster than an all-season tire, just as the all-season tire wears quicker in winter than a winter tire. A study of Swiss drivers, by their equivalent of the CAA, showed that switching tires every season is actually cheaper at the five-year mark than using one set all year round… Overall tire wear due to mileage is not the major concern; it is wear to the edges of the tread blocks that is the concern. Sharp edges on the blocks are what give good snow grip. Winter tires run in the summer usually show worn tread block edges.”
This is why you’ll usually find a week or more waiting time to get your vehicle’s tires switched over to winter tires at your local dealership – it’s because most people are doing the best they can to preserve their winter tires by only swapping them over when they need them to ensure they get as many winter seasons as they can from each set.
Having your wheels aligned once per year during regular maintenance is a great way to help prolong the life of your tires because misaligned tires wear out unevenly and can even look rough and torn in particularly bad alignment situations.
ALignments are inexpensive ways to ensure that your tire’s contact patch is straight, in-line and are all accepting as much wear-and-tear as the other tires, promoting even wear and therefore prolonged life. Consider adding an alignment to your winter maintenance tune-up, or spring tune-up when you switch your tires over yearly.
Take it Easy!
Lastly, one of the most potent ways to make sure that you get as long as possible out of a set of tires is to drive normally. Take it easy around corners, don’t speed unnecessarily on dirt or unpaved roads, ensure that your tires are inflated properly, and refrain from doing burnouts.
Every time you hear a tire squeal when you press the gas too hard off the line, that’s valuable rubber leaving your tire, and months being subtracted from the life of your tires. Driving with caution in a responsible and safe demeanour not only enriches your driving experience and the safety of others around you, but helps to keep your hard-earned pay cheque in your pocket.